Final Fantasy - All Series Fan Fiction ❯ Sympathy for the Damned ❯ Part 19 ( Chapter 19 )
"Sympathy for the Damned"
Kuja followed Sephiroth into his room and watched as the swordsman walked to the back wall and squatted. He was working at one of the large stone tiles in the floor, and Kuja approached and peered over his shoulder curiously. The tile came away to reveal a hidden compartment.
"After the first bloodbath," Sephiroth explained with a grunt as he set the block aside and reached in, "I stored all of the extra weapons in here, to deprive any future `guests' of any advantage over me. The creators of this place made sure that there was a little something for everyone." His voice was wry with dark amusement as he pried open a crate that rested in the compartment.
"So, they provided all sorts of weaponry to better enable you all to murder each other?"
Sephiroth stopped for a moment, remembering his vision. "Actually, I'm beginning to suspect that their true purpose was to see if we could all work together to escape. Since the environment of this world doesn't cripple the effects of man made weapons, it's possible that they were trying to give us the tools necessary to escape together."
Kuja frowned. "But, you've given me the impression that the only portal available leads to my world. Which, by the way, I find rather suspicious, Sephiroth. How do you know there's even a portal, if you've never managed to get that far?"
Sephiroth stopped what he was doing and straightened up, turning around to look at the genome with thoughtful, green eyes. "I suppose I should tell you. Our jailers visited me a few nights ago, in another vision. They said that you and I have passed their little `test' and gave me the information I needed to find the portal. I can only assume the same thing would have happened with all of the prisoners here, if we had been able to stop murdering one another long enough to work together."
"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" Kuja tilted his head and crossed his arms over his chest. He wasn't angry with Sephiroth…not yet. He was curious.
"Because I didn't trust them. I have other reasons as well, but they're none of your business. Suffice to say, I knew that you would want to leave immediately if I told you, and I still had to work things out and decide if the information could be relied upon. I still don't think they were telling me the whole truth, but you deserve the chance to get out of here, if nothing else, so I'm willing to risk it." He snapped his mouth shut on the last sentence and quickly turned back to the crate that was under the floor.
The traces of anger that had been rising in Kuja's breath died down and were replaced by a feeling of unexpected warmth. He watched his lover toss the lid of the wooden crate aside and begin digging the contents. Kuja kept his thoughts to himself, knowing that speaking them out loud would only agitate his friend. "Why do I get the feeling that if I weren't here, you wouldn't even be bothering to try this, Sephy?"
Sephiroth twisted to face him, and for a horrifying moment, the genome thought that he had read his mind. Then the warrior held out something to him, and Kuja took it gingerly. As Seph turned back to the crate, Kuja examined the object in his hand. It was made of cool, silver metal and was sleek in design. There was a hilt of sorts, and connected to the hilt was a round circle of metal. Inside the circle of metal was a hinged, contoured piece of metal that Kuja assumed to be a button of sorts. Kuja guessed how the weapon was meant to fit in the hand, and he grasped it and stared into the thick, three-inch barrel.
"What is this? A miniature cannon? How brilliant! How does it work?"
Sephiroth froze, feeling a chill go up his spine at those innocent, ignorant words. He turned around to see Kuja pointing the gun directly at his own face and staring into the barrel with fearless curiosity. His finger was settled on the trigger. Dropping the box of ammunition he had grabbed for the gun, Sephiroth bounded to his feet smoothly and carefully pried the weapon out of the sorcerer's hand. "I think," he said with a frowning stare at his friend, "that I had better hang on to this. I'll find something you're more familiar with."
Kuja watched as the tall man stuffed the gun into one of the deep pockets of his trenchcoat. Sephiroth's face was as white as a sheet, and his green eyes were dilated with alarm. "I almost killed myself, didn't I?" Kuja said sheepishly, understanding that the uncharacteristic fear in his lover's eyes was for him.
Sephiroth nodded slowly. "It wouldn't have been the most productive start of the day. I would have spent the morning cleaning your brains from the wall and waiting for you to revive. I forgot that you come from a less advanced civilization."
"Perhaps you can teach me how to use one of those things, once this is finished." Kuja gave Sephiroth a smile, trying to ease the stress in the taller man's body.
Sephiroth relaxed some. "Maybe. Let's just see about getting to the portal, first." He turned back to the crate and clenched his gloved hands to calm the shaking in them. He had never felt fear like that before in his entire life, and he didn't care for the sensation one bit. Never mind that this place would have repaired the damage and brought the genome back to life again. Just seeing him come that close to blowing his own brains out had been enough to make Sephiroth's heart stop cold.
Sighing in frustration of these strange weaknesses he had for his companion, Sephiroth found a rapier and lifted it out of the crate. Turning, he presented it cautiously to his pretty lover, making sure to leave it in the scabbard. "Can you use one of these? Do you know what it is?"
Kuja rolled his eyes. "Wonderful…now you think I'm some sort of primitive. No, Sephy, Just give me a club and some stones to throw."
"Kuja, you could have killed yourself. I have no idea what sort of weaponry you're accustomed to, so don't get pissy with me for being careful."
Kuja sighed and nodded. "Very well, I'll admit that you are in the right, this time. Yes, I know what that is. I took fencing lessons, you know." He reached for the weapon, and Sephiroth obliged him and allowed him to take it. Kuja unsheathed the slender rapier and stepped back, doing a quick flourish with it for no better reason than to show Sephiroth he wouldn't slit his own throat by accident.
Sephiroth smiled. "Impressive. Can you do that when it counts?"
Kuja flushed, guessing by the amused, knowing twinkle in the green eyes that Sephiroth could tell that the fancy move was more suited for stage shows than real combat. "Just watch me."
"Well, if the demons do surround us, we probably won't have to fight. They'll laugh themselves to death when they take one look at me."
Kuja was pouting at his reflection in the mirror. Sephiroth had made him drape a white scarf over his head and tie it off at his chin, and the swordsman had applied some sort of white paint to the genome's nose, forehead and cheeks. He said it would protect his skin from sunburn. Kuja stuck his tongue out at his reflection and made a face.
Sephiroth covered his mouth with his hand and coughed, trying not to laugh. "I don't want to listen to you whining about sunburn through the entire journey. Would you rather that pretty skin be blistered and peeling?"
Kuja sighed. "No. I just look like a clown playing someone's Grandmother."
"Trust me, there's nobody to impress out there."
Kuja turned to his lover and gazed up at him with bright sapphire eyes. "You're going through an awful lot of trouble to protect me, Sephy."
The swordsman snorted and averted his gaze. "I just don't want you wilting like a flower and slowing us down. Put this on." He held out a jacket similar to his own in style and length, but this one was made of light cloth instead of leather. Kuja's body-hugging outfit exposed most of his flat stomach and his hips, and Sephiroth wanted to protect as much of the genome's smooth skin from the elements as possible (though he didn't want to admit it aloud and get his companion started again on how protective he was).
"If you keep layering me with clothes, I'm going to sweat myself into dehydration before we're halfway there," Kuja protested, though he allowed the taller man to help him into the jacket.
"Not necessarily. It's really no hotter out there than it is in here. There simply won't be any protection from the sun and the wind is going to be blowing sand around us. Just stop arguing, so that we can get going."
Now armed as heavily as they dared and equipped with water canteens and food rations from the storage room, the two prisoners stood on the outside of the compound wall, facing the dark, jagged mountains in the distance. Despite the complications concerning Kuja's clothing, they had made good time. The sky was becoming gray with the light of morning.
"Are you ready?"
Kuja took a shuddering breath and glanced back over his shoulder. Looking up, he could see the second-floor window of his bedroom. An unexpected pang constricted his heart, and he moved closer to Sephiroth. "I don't know why, but a part of me is going to miss this place."
Sephiroth raised an eyebrow at him.
"Don't look at me like that! It's just that…I've never had a friend before. Well, other than my dragon, Silver. I met the first person who's ever come close to understanding me, here." He blinked and looked back at the place. "I certainly don't want to stay, but I feel almost like I'm leaving home." He laughed and lowered his eyes. "Bah, don't listen to me, Sephy. I'm just nervous."
Sephiroth almost reached out to stroke the scarf covering Kuja's head. He understood, but he wouldn't admit it out loud. "Come on," he said gruffly, "we need to take advantage of all the daylight we can. Keep your eyes and ears open."
Kuja nodded and fell into step beside him as he began to walk. They could see blurred figures in the distance, but the terrain made it difficult to tell how far away they were. Not that it mattered. As Sephiroth said, the manifestations were weak, confused and unfocused in daylight. The danger they faced now was minimal, compared to what they would face when night fell.
-To be continued